I started what I hope to be a new hobby yesterday... Geocaching!! Last week, I went to WalMart and bought a handheld GPS receiver (GPSR) and attempted to connect it to the geocaching website so I could download Cachepoints and start the treasure hunting.
FULL DISCLOSURE: During at least two military training opportunities to learn land navigation, using compasses, I failed miserably, so I, of course, thought this would be easy.
Well, the Magellan wasn't idiot proof enough, so I went back and traded it up for a Garmin Legend HCx model. Lots of bells and whistles, and, thankfully, idiot proof (so far).
I spent Sunday scouring the website for locations near my house, within walking distance (ok under 5 miles), and then looked for some near St Luke's Hospital in Meridian, since my son was going to be in surgery for a short time on Monday. My thinking: Hey, why sit in the waiting room, when there are two locations right there on hospital property, right?
GC locations are rated on a difficulty scale of 1-5 for both terrain and ease of finding. Both the locations at the hospital were rated as a 1/1, meaning they were the easiest. So simple a child could find them, right?? er... sort of.
One lat/long took me out to the front of the hospital, near the bus shelter, and after a bit of walking in circles (and sideways looks from someone waiting for the bus), I decided to abandon that search and try to look for the second one, which should have been near the Life Flight heli-pad.
I parked on a cul-de-sac near the Whirly Bird, and toddled in the direction the arrow was sending me... 500 ft... 400 ft.. 30 ft... 3 ft... 2 ft... 3 ft... huh? 8 ft?? Turn around, back up...
I just knew that the staff in the building not 10 ft away was peeking through their blinds, laughing their fool heads off thinking, "Oh, look! Another one! Watch how she looked right at it... then walked 10 ft away... now she's back... oops, there she goes... "
Well, sheesh, it was so obvious, to anyone who'd done this before, I guess. But I did actually look at, and dismiss the location, till the 2x4 hit me in the head... could it be? Was this it? Without divulging the objects itself, I opened it, found an empty peanut butter jar, signed the log, and left my pen in the jar, as there was only a dull pencil. I hit the "FOUND" button on my GPXR. Weeeeeeeeeeee!!!!
As I thought I still had a bit of time, I popped inside the hospital, picked up my son's pain pills for post surgery, then went out the front door again to give the first location another shot. I got to 0 ft, and saw something similar to the one I had just found, but it was empty. Abandoned...
Here is a pic from my parking space of the Life Flight helicopter and the building where I know the staff was laughing at me while I walked right by the cache several times... Good thing they couldn't hear me muttering to myself: "I hate scavenger hunts, I hate scavenger hunts..."
Well, finding it, logging my first find on both my GPSR and online made up for all that frustration.
I picked up my son, who is now down to 9 screws in his ankle (see a previous post with his X-ray) and went home. After dropping my son off at his house, I stopped by the Anne Frank Memorial by the Library! to find a virtual cache.
This one required locating several quotations on one of the panels, and emailing the answers of two specific questions to the person who initiated the cache. I'm just waiting for the ok to log that find.
I can see how this can be addictive. I've already downloaded cachepoints near where I'll be on my vacation up in the Calgary area in May, near my moms house South of Tucson, and looked for CG's at the two port stops during my Cruise in November...
I also have some near my house which I will take my grandson to help find. He is 6 years old, and probably will figure this out quicker than I did.
If you've been thinking of taking up this hobby, it can be a great way to get outdoors by yourself, or with others. After the initial outlay for the one piece of equipment that is required, there is no cost except to get to the location where you are going to look.
The iPhone has a $9.99 geocaching application which is all you need. If you don't have an iPhone, you can purchase a handheld, pre-programmed GPSR from about $150. The Magellan was not Mac-able, but the Garmin works with both Macs and PCs.